Archive for ‘Peppers’

July 11, 2012

West African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter and Black Beans

This soup is amazing: hearty, comforting, and DELICIOUS. It also happens to be both vegetarian and vegan, although you could certainly add meat to this dish (chicken and beef would go well here). This soup honors fall flavors while paying homage to both Thai and African culinary traditions. I would say the addition of the Thai curry paste, lime, and brown sugar makes this soup Thai-African fusion.

Total Time: 45 minutes, largely unattended

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Serves 4-5, adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 medium red onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced very finely
1/2 lb dried black beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
1 quart vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter (or sunbutter for those allergic!)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime
3 tsp brown sugar
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add the curry paste and cinnamon.  Stir for a minute so that the olive oil gets infused with spice.  Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, bell pepper, and jalapeno.  Stir and cook the veggies for 5-7 minutes, until softened.

2. Add the beans and broth.   Add the peanut butter to the mix.  Add the red pepper flakes.

3. Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and simmer.  Cook until veggies are tender, about 25 minutes.

4. Stir in the lime juice and brown sugar.  Season with salt and black pepper, if needed. Top with chopped cilantro.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

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July 11, 2012

Panang Curry with Tofu, Eggplant, Potatoes, Sweet Red Bell Pepper, and Fresh Basil

I’m a fiend for curry and Thai curry is one of my favorites. There are many different Thai curries (Massaman, Panang, Red, Green, Yellow, Karee, Kaeng Kua, Khing, etc.), each with a unique flavor that stems from the different ingredients in their pastes. If I was an authentic Thai chef, I’d grind my spices in a pestle and mortar and crack a coconut and strain its milk. Let’s just say I’ve tried to make authentic curry before in just this manner and ended up with multiple bruises on my forehead and a chipped countertop. Since I’m a college a student with no time, the following recipe is one that I’ve made up over the years and is as convenient as can be without sacrificing taste. You can use any protein you want (chicken, pork, beef, seafood, duck, etc.) and any vegetables or fruits you want (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, green beans, etc).

Again, this recipe is a simple concept where you can mix and match to find your favorite combination:

Concept: curry paste + coconut milk + protein + vegetables = delicious curry.

This is a great recipe for making a huge batch and reheating the leftovers throughout the week. Curry will taste even better the next day when all of the flavors have had time to mingle. A batch of curry will last for about a week in the fridge.

If you’re watching your fat and calorie intake, you could use light coconut milk (best deal is at Trader Joe’s, $0.99/can). However, this will make your curry runnier (since light coconut milk is essentially diluted coconut milk) and, in my opinion, less delicious. You could do 1 light can, 1 full-fat can to compromise, but from my own experience, just use the unadulterated coconut milk and eat less of it. Trust me, the taste and texture of your curry will be absolutely amazing and it will be worth it.

Chao Koh is the best authentic brand of canned coconut milk for foodies and Thai home cooks alike, and is available at Safeway. The next best brand is Thai Kitchen’s Coconut Milk, which is available at Whole Foods.

I always use Maesri brand curry paste, which I get from Asian grocery stores, but Thai Kitchen curry pastes are good, too. You can find those at Safeway and Whole Foods.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp of neutral oil such as canola, peanut, safflower, or vegetable

2 13 oz cans of coconut milk

1 can (4 oz, or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste (or any curry paste)

1 medium eggplant

3 medium-sized potatoes (or 6 small potatoes)

1 14 oz box of firm or extra firm tofu (spongy tofu, tofu gan, or any form of tofu will work, but firm will hold up better in the curry)

1 red bell pepper

1 small handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded

1. Heat up a medium to large pot to medium heat.

2. Stir fry 4 oz (or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste with 2 tbsp of oil.

3. Add 1 can of coconut milk and stir to integrate the curry paste with the coconut milk. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, chop the tofu into small 1/2 inch chunks.

4. When the mixture boils, add the tofu and stir thoroughly.5. While the tofu is cooking, chop the eggplant and potatoes into small 1/2 inch chunks.

6. Add another can of coconut milk and add the chopped eggplant and potatoes. If the liquid doesn’t cover the newly added eggplant and potatoes, add some water, but not too much, since the eggplant and potatoes will reduce down as they cook.

7. While the eggplant and potatoes are cooking, remove the seeds from the red bell pepper and slice the pepper into strips.

8. After 20 minutes, check to see if the eggplant and potatoes are tender by sticking a fork or chopstick in it. The potatoes should not be too hard or too mushy. If they’re too hard, let them cook for 5-10 more minutes.

9. Once the potatoes are tender, add in the chopped red bell pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, and then serve immediately over jasmine rice or by itself. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. If you like it spicy, you can also garnish with fresh red chilies.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

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